As Ramadan is now upon us, more than a billion Muslims around the world have now completed their first few fasts of 2021. This year, like last year, is unlike any other Ramadans we have observed pre-pandemic.
Pandemic aside, this month in our Islamic calendar has been made more notable because of the rewards we can be given. It is a month in which we set out to feel closer to Allah, to pray, spend time with our families and friends, and remember those who are less fortunate, all while fasting. And no, “not even water.”
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day, either for 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon.
It is compulsory on all men and women once they reach the age of puberty. However women are excused from fasting when on their period, but any fasts missed must be kept at a later date. Yet some women are not taught that our periods are valid excuses to forgo fasting. Instead we are forced to suffer from cramps and headaches while being unable to drink, eat, or even take any pain relievers.
It may be hard to talk about such private things with your family. Just in case, here are some myths about women, Islam, and Ramadan, debunked.
Women must fast the whole month of Ramadan.
Like we talked about above, this isn’t true at all. Most women will have a period during this month, and with periods come painful cramps, cravings, and headaches, just to name a few things. The reason why Allah has forbidden menstruating women to fast is out of mercy towards them, as fasting would be an unfair burden, and may even be harmful to women.
Women must appear to be fasting in front of others.
This is false. Many girls are forced to hide the fact that they are menstruating and are told to instead “pretend” to fast in front of their male family members to avoid questions, being stared at, or avoid any possible uncomfortable discussions around periods and menstrual cycles. Sisters who are made to eat and hide away in their bedrooms instead of in the kitchen should not be subjected to this. Men in Islam are supposed to be understanding, as periods are part of the childbearing process. Not to mention their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters get them. All Muslim sisters should be able to sit in front of male family members and eat and drink, no questions asked, without feeling ashamed.
Women should still keep fasting if they are on their period.
Nope! The timeframe of a fast is from sunrise to sunset. If a sister starts menstruating after sunrise but before sunset, her fast is not valid, and she should stop fasting, as it is now haraam. This fast should be made up.
Pregnant women must fast.
This is also false. Fasting is still compulsory upon pregnant women, but if advised against it by a doctor, or she herself feels it may put her child or herself in danger, fasting is not permissible. The same rule applies for breastfeeding women. Babies need food and you’re eating for two, so feel free to chow down.
Bleeding after childbirth is not an excuse to skip fasting.
This is another common misconception. Bleeding after childbirth (termed nifaas) is treated by Islam in the same manner periods are, so fasting is not permitted in Ramadan.
As always, speak to a trusted sheikh with your questions about what’s right for you. Inshallah this month brings us nothing but peace and blessings. May Allah forgive our sins and make this month easy. May Allah reward our efforts and keep us in the best of health.